This is how my romance novel The Cowboy’s Baby got its start–with membership in Romance Writers of America®.

I’ve belonged to RWA® twice, once more than ten years ago, and currently beginning in August of 2008. This professional writers organization is the only one I know that accepts unpublished writers as full members. But the rule is that you have to be serious about making romance writing your career (though they don’t really check).

So, more than ten years ago I used the RWA® to give me a goal–a completed novel. They also gave me the title of my book, The Cowboy’s Baby. An article in their trade magazine at the time said using the words cowboy or baby in the title got you more readers. So The Cowboy’s Baby should have been a double whammy. (FYI, I’m not the only one who saw that article and ran with it. There are several The Cowboy’s Baby romances out there right now.)

So, now I had a title and two characters–the cowboy and the baby, and I had the genre–romance, and I had the stick to make me work–the  RWA® requirements for membership.

Next came the setting. To make it easier, I used something from my own history. My parents lived for decades in a gated golf-community with three lakes, a swimming pool, a club house, restaurants, marina, the whole shebang. At one time there were even stables and horses. I visited regularly. So this is what I used, and when I started The Cowboy’s Baby, the first image that came to me was that of a white cat trotting across the golf greens with a pink collar around his neck. That was what was in my mind when I started.

So, now I had the setting (golf community), the time period (contemporary), and another character (the cat). Eventually I put all that together and it led to the emergence of our hero–Ellison Stewart, handsome manager of the golf community. But what about the cowboy and the baby?

Well, the next thing that popped into my mind was the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, and I decided to use it as a frame for TCB. I don’t remember why. I’ve always enjoyed books that touch on the old tales, so maybe that was it. And using Sleeping Beauty gave me a layer of plot and it gave me our heroine–Cassandra Lennon, the wealthy recluse whose property abutting the residential resort is surrounded by rose-covered walls.

Stick to make me work ( RWA®),  genre (romance), time (contemporary), setting (residential gated community with all the amenities including a golf course), plot device (Sleeping Beauty fairy tale), and lead characters (manager of the golf community, and then the wealthy recluse living nearby). And I still didn’t have a cowboy or a baby. But I started writing it at that time anyhow.

I won’t tell you about the cowboy because that would be a spoiler. But what happened with the baby was this–I got three chapters into writing and had some character say “Help! The cowboy’s baby is going to get me!” (or something like that), and I  blanked out. I couldn’t think of anything interesting enough to elicit that response. I was stopped dead in my tracks and I set TCB aside and didn’t start writing on it again until 2008 when, again, membership in the  RWA® required that I be writing on a romance. It sat for ten years or more while I did other stuff, including starting several more novels that petered out after four or five chapters. But when I sat down in December 2008 and took up The Cowboy’s Baby again and wrote on it every day, I was able to complete it. And I’m proud of what I accomplished.

 Here it is. Have a look.

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